Sunday | June 25, 2017
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An easier Tax Day

Rep. Dave Camp’s pending retirement from Congress may put an end to his long crusade to make common sense of the nation’s tax code, unless someone else takes up the mantle. It would be tragic if the effort is not sustained.

Camp, the Midland Republican who chairs the Ways and Means committee, introduced his tax reform package just a few weeks before announcing he won’t seek re-election in the fall. The plan would simplify the tax code for both individuals and businesses and make it an engine for economic growth.

It’s received an indifferent response. Camp’s fellow Republicans, worried about having to defend on the campaign trail the plan’s elimination of popular tax cuts, have almost universally ignored the proposal, the product of three years of serious work. The chances of it seeing passage in this election-year session are nonexistent.

That doesn’t change the fact that it’s a solid plan.

The Camp proposal would allow up to 95 percent of individual filers to get the lowest tax rate just by claiming the standard deductions. That would put an end to the last-minute scramble to fill out reams of forms, strain for extra deductions and hunt for receipts, a process many taxpayers endured in advance of the April 15 filing deadline.

The current, multiple tax brackets would be condensed to just two: 10 percent for most earners and 25 percent for those with high incomes. Lost revenue from the flatter rates would be made up by allowing fewer exemptions, and through the growth the reforms will spur.

Capital gains and investment income would be taxed as regular income, but 40 percent would be exempt from taxation, to encourage investments that are essential to a growing economy.

Other highlights include lifting penalties for corporations that repatriate overseas earnings, expanding research and development credits and a repeal of Obamacare’s onerous medical devices tax.

Senior citizens would have a simpler form under the proposed reforms. It also incentivizes charitable giving.

And, welcome news for beleaguered Michigan motorists, Camp’s plan would divert $1.26 billion to the National Highway Trust Fund to fully finance highway and infrastructure investment.

Nearly everyone in Washington, even at times President Barack Obama, acknowledges the need for a major overhaul of the tax code to make it simpler for individual filers and less burdensome for job creators. But it never happens.

The most likely champions of Camp’s plan after he leaves are Rep. Michael Burgess of Texas and Rep. Rob Woodall of Georgia, who, in the past, have offered bills that contain similar reforms. But their ideas have also failed to gain traction.

Credit Camp for ignoring the impossibility of the task and delivering a reform package that would be fair to both individual and corporate taxpayers, and help grow the economy. It was a good parting gift to the country.

Congress should give the proposal a serious airing before Camp leaves at the end of the year. And if it doesn’t pass this session, another crusader should take up his mission.

— From the Detroit News


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